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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is a s/o from the thread about Oprah's "World's Most Frugal Family" show. I'd like to talk about the need for increased frugality and how to achieve it among those who are not low income. In particular, I am interested in those of us who have become accustomed to living a consumerist American middle-class+ life and are now trying to correct ourselves.<br><br>
I'll start with my story, in the hopes there will be someone who relates: I'm in my late 20s (just barely!) partnered, no children. I make a good salary (right now about $55,000/year). My partner is a graduate student so he makes a much lower salary (about $22,000/year). We own our own home, and our mortgage is a pretty reasonable $1,300/month.<br><br>
I have debt. I have about $5,000 in consumer debt, which I've been working on paying down since January (at which time it was over $11,000). I also have student loans, to the tune of about $34,000, on which I pay $300/month or so.<br><br>
Somehow, though, we're always broke. Our joint account is always in single digits at the end of the month, and my personal account is in the red if I don't start using my credit cards again. Spending is a problem. Having high overall costs is a problem. Living in the way in which the media has taught me is the problem. And I am trying really hard to change.
 

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Grace,<br><br>
I am subbing with the hope of writing more later. We, too, would be considered "high income" and yet we are having a tremendously difficult time making ends meet as a result of a large (really large) debt load and a need to adjust our thinking about what we need and what's important.<br><br>
I'll be back...
 

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I am also in my late 20's and am trying to be better about finances also. We own our home but we have 3 car payments a month. Yes we need all cars and we can afford them but I just want to quit spending so much. My big money waster is groceries and Target trips. What I have done is listed all of our fixed expenses for the month and then listed our variable expenses. I make our money work how I want it to and when the money from the catergory is gone I have to cut back somewheres else in varialbe expenses or go without whatever it is I want.<br><br>
What has saved me the most money is meal planning. I used to spend $100 every week at the grocery store and get home and not have food for meals. Now I decide what I want before I go to the store and I spend $60-$70 dollars a week on food and household stuff.<br><br>
Maybe if you want to start saving more you could go to a cash only policy for variable expenses like eating out and clothes shopping.<br><br>
Do you know where your money is going or are you not sure what you are spending it on?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Oh, I know where it is going. To the dollar, almost.<br><br><span style="text-decoration:underline;">Personal money</span><br>
Take home pay: $3,200<br>
To joint account: $2,000<br>
To student loan: $275<br>
To credit cards: $600<br>
To medical expenses: $50<br>
To eating out and going thrifting and swapping: $275+<br><br><span style="text-decoration:underline;">Joint money</span><br>
Monthly budget: $3,000<br>
Mortgage: $1,300<br>
Car payment: $400<br>
City utilities (electric, trash, water): $100<br>
Cable: $80<br>
Internet: $60<br>
Gas: $30<br>
Cell phones: $80<br>
Eating out: $200<br>
Groceries: $400<br>
Pet expenses: $150<br>
Misc: $200+
 

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Take a real hard look at where your money is going. We're a family of 4 living on much less than you are and used to have troubles making ends meet. Now we're much more careful about those "extras" and try to buy used whenever possible. I make much more of our food and choose free activities over those that cost money.<br><br>
We've managed to save into the 5-digits this year by really thinking about our money and where it goes. Of course, we sometimes slip, but the trick is to get back on board and keep going.<br><br>
Look at your bank statements. Write down every single dollar you spent last month. Where did it go? Target? Groceries? Entertainment? Clothes? What you find might just surprise you.
 

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To the OP - what are you spending your money on? And what are you already doing to try to cut costs? There a zillions of ways out there to cut costs, but I don't want to waste my time writing them here if you're already doing them.
 

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Just cutting out eating out (both accts), thrifting and Internet would save you over $500 a month. That's not including the 200 miscellaneous. Where is your insurance and gas put in on here?<br><br>
Is this your budget or what you REALLY spent last month (line by line on bank statement)?
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>avengingophelia</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/12359662"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Oh, I know where it is going. To the dollar, almost.<br><br><span style="text-decoration:underline;">Personal money</span><br>
Take home pay: $3,200<br>
To joint account: $2,000<br>
To student loan: $275<br>
To credit cards: $600<br>
To medical expenses: $50<br>
To eating out and going thrifting and swapping: $275+<br><br><span style="text-decoration:underline;">Joint money</span><br>
Monthly budget: $3,000<br>
Mortgage: $1,300<br>
Car payment: $400<br>
City utilities (electric, trash, water): $100<br>
Cable: $80<br>
Internet: $60<br>
Gas: $30<br>
Cell phones: $80<br>
Eating out: $200<br>
Groceries: $400<br>
Pet expenses: $150<br>
Misc: $200+</div>
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Dining out is in your budget twice.<br><br>
I assume home owner's insurance and real estate taxes are included in your payment.<br><br>
The following items are missing from your budget:<br>
Car Insurance<br>
Car registration/tags/parking stickers<br>
Car maintenance (repairs, oil changes, tires, etc)<br>
Home maintenance (garden/lawn, repairs, appliance repair/replacement, furniture replacement, etc)<br>
Charity<br>
Clothing (repair, replacement, dry cleaning)<br>
Insurance co-pays<br>
Life insurance<br>
Cosmetics and hair care<br>
Subscriptions/Memberships (magazines, web sites, Gym, etc)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Lisa85</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/12359736"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">To the OP - what are you spending your money on? And what are you already doing to try to cut costs? There a zillions of ways out there to cut costs, but I don't want to waste my time writing them here if you're already doing them.</div>
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I posted my general budget a couple of posts up. As for what I'm already doing to cut costs, here are some things that have been suggested here that we're doing/already did:<br>
1. I rarely buy new clothes, just used. I did recently buy a few new things, but they were at least at outlet stores.<br>
2. I hang our laundry. Our dryer has been broken since April and we haven't had it replaced. My partner is insisting on replacing it, though.<br>
3. I haven't had my hair cut in 18 months or so and have no plans to.<br>
4. I don't wear makeup or get my nails done (well, I do get 1-2 pedicures a year as a treat).<br>
5. My partner and I carpool to work, and when we aren't both going, we take the bus.
 

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If I am reading your budget right you contribute 2000 to the household budget plus pay some of your own expenses from your own account. Correct?<br><br>
I see way too much money going towards food whether it be groceries or eating out. If you watch what you buy at the grocery store and only eat out once a week you will save a ton. Is that possible?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Oh, that was more or less top-of-my head budget. Line by line, this is last month for my personal account:<br><br>
Income: $3,367.56<br><br>
To joint: $2,000<br>
To credit cards: $1,118.29<br>
Thrifting: $101.42<br>
Eating out: $44.74<br>
Gym dues/Weight Watchers: $22.36<br>
Magazine subscriptions: $6.11<br>
Savings: $100<br>
Cash withdrawal: $40<br>
Student loan: $257.60<br>
Clothes: $58.34<br>
Craft supplies: $80.76<br>
Postage: $61.99<br>
Total spent: $3,891.61<br><br>
Deficit: -$524.05<br><br>
And honestly, it was a good month for me. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment">
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>grlpowers</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/12359846"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">If I am reading your budget right you contribute 2000 to the household budget plus pay some of your own expenses from your own account. Correct?<br><br>
I see way too much money going towards food whether it be groceries or eating out. If you watch what you buy at the grocery store and only eat out once a week you will save a ton. Is that possible?</div>
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Yes, that is correct.<br><br>
Spending on food is a major bone of contention at my house. I know it is out of control, but we have actually cut way back. My partner is a gourmet cook, and we drink a lot of wine...<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/innocent.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="shy">
 

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I suspect the trouble is that he has gourmet tastes/expectations and a grad student income. Can he (and you) reel it in until he's making more money?
 

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I don't mean to sound harsh but if you want to keep your account in the positive you need to create a budget and stick with it until your cc debt is paid off and you then have a little more income free to play around with.<br><br>
I would cut your thrifting in half, craft supplies in half, spend a lot less on postage, and not go into the negative to pay off cc debt. Also cut back on clothing purchases until the debt is paid off.<br><br>
You don't seem to have a lot of debt so if you work hard you can get rid of it. We live in a Need It Now society but honestly sometimes we have to wait until we can afford to buy stuff with cold hard cash. Plus it is more rewarding that way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
This is the joint account last month:<br><br>
Total income: $3,200<br><br>
Banking fee: $6.95<br>
Annual parking pass: $138<br>
Mortgage: $1,248.51<br>
Home repair/housewares: $119.20<br>
Groceries: $359.49<br>
Target (some groceries, some not): $321.71<br>
Eating out: $275.68<br>
Pets: $310.05<br>
Entertainment: $71.97<br>
Car payment: $300<br>
City bill: $177<br>
Cable: $88.29<br>
Cell phones: $79.84<br>
Internet: $56.97<br>
Gasoline: $44.12<br>
Postage: $9.80<br>
Gas: $17.48<br>
Total: $3,625.02<br><br>
Deficit: -$425.02
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>frog</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/12359948"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I suspect the trouble is that he has gourmet tastes/expectations and a grad student income. Can he (and you) reel it in until he's making more money?</div>
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Well, he has a grad student income, but as a couple we don't, you know?<br><br>
The horrible part is that this IS reeled in...
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>grlpowers</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/12359986"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I don't mean to sound harsh but if you want to keep your account in the positive you need to create a budget and stick with it until your cc debt is paid off and you then have a little more income free to play around with.</div>
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You don't sound harsh. You are absolutely right.<br><br>
Anyway, I'm sorry to make this all about me. I am happy to hear people's thoughts about my situation, definitely, but I also just wanted to sort of show where the money is going when someone in a higher income bracket is broke. Bah.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>avengingophelia</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/12360018"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Well, he has a grad student income, but as a couple we don't, you know?</div>
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right, but, as a couple you also don't have a six-figure income like you would if you both had jobs like yours.<br><br>
i make good income, my partner doesn't because she is trying to get a business off the ground (great time, huh?) Her low salary and my higher salary cancel each other out. Her belt tightening is my belt tightening.<br><br>
And, you've both got a lot of tightening that could be done: thrifting, swapping, eating out...<br><br>
If you stopped eating out, and were eating home cooked healthier food, you could probably cut both Weight Watchers and the restaurant stuff out of your budget. two birds with one stone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I already cut out the WW. I am keeping my gym membership, but it's only $10 a month and completely worth it.
 

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I was in your situation not so long ago so I know how it is. And I still fall victim to the evil Target. In fact my husband and I managed to spend $80 there just this week on stuff we "had" to have. It is hard when you make enough to afford most things but then you just spend a little too much here and there and all of a sudden you are $800 over your budget for the month.<br><br>
You really are not doing too bad but you might want to stay out of target for a little while. That was quite a high bill for a month, ya know? Between groceries eating out and target it was like $1000.00 for 2 people that is realllllly high.<br><br>
I know you said that you have already made changes but just a few more and you could be debt free. How good would that feel?
 
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